The traveler sat idle in space with an undecided location to which to plot a course. Jesh and the heroes of Tetcht broke away from the citizens to discuss the plan amongst each other. Locked in a room until they could decide their next action.
Dara ended her idea about creating chaos in order to destroy Magnus and the Council. They had all taken small doses of Iku to help speed up the process from their wounds. The twins still sipping from their vials as they hated the taste of it. It often took them longer to drink, unlike the others who could guzzle it down without a second thought.
“If we destroy the entire army and tribes, there will be nothing to build upon. There will be no life after the war.” Kyah began. “Besides, the other Councilmen would return with their armies and we would undoubtably be routed.” Kyah explained.
She had been in open rebellion from the beginning of Dara’s words. “I agree. The citizens of Tetcht, your people, would still be alive. I cannot see reason in the proposed destruction of my family for yours. Pratham’s achieved some sort of balance for a time. To upset it….” Da-Xia argued.
“The Salum, has never been on equal footing in the war. This might actually give them a chance.” Yaffa joked, interrupting her fellow crewmate.
Da-Xia found no humor in her remarks. “Perhaps the hundreds of Muetus shifters I slaughtered would disagree, if they had breath still left in them.” She responded. The twin’s joyful expressions quickly wiped from their faces.
“Enough. We will not waste time. The Council holds the best position. They will not expose themselves and pursue us again. The only plan is a strategic assassination, with as little casualties as possible. A planet wide brawl would only draw attention to ourselves.” Kyah reasoned with the others.
The group would go on to discuss matters further. Sentry 19 listened closely to the many points of view and squabbling. “Take us home.” He spoke up. His tone shaky and uncertain. 19 looked everyone in their eyes. He and Sentry 3 were by far the weakest of the assembly and felt they probably had no right to speak.
But he would have to speak on Tetcht’s behalf. “Before your people came, we lived peacefully. No wars, no plotting or politics. No god-like beings. We were okay.” He said, looking toward Sentry 3 for validation.
Kyah attempted to interject his thought process. “You are our people too. We all descend from Earth.” She said. “Earth decided they didn’t want us anymore. So, let us go. We don’t want to be involved. Tetcht’s people have grieved more than we can handle. We’re not like you anymore. So just let us go home.” 3 added.
The crew stood quiet for a time. Allowing the sentiment to marinate. “Our people have suffered enough. It’s time for us to go home.” 19 said looking directly at Dara.
The last time she had seen 19, he was willingly turning her over to Fei. To her death. She owed him no harmony. Dara tried to allow her emotions to flow freely but, in his eyes, she saw remorse. She found herself forgiving him. “It is clear why you all were deemed unfit. You obviously are born from a lineage of weaklings.” Jesh broke the silence.
His eyebrows sinking to express his fury. “We fought for you and your people. Rescued you from your fate multiple times. My father and mother gave you the power of the Sun in the form of Dara. And you spit on their honor.” Jesh shouted.
Dara stood in front of him. “There is no dishonor in their request. We haven’t considered what my people want.” She protected, placing her hand on his chest. Her effort to calm him was quickly rejected. Jesh forcefully shoved her hand away.
“Your people? The people that allowed you to be ran out? Allowed your mother to be killed?” Jesh’s disgust raising with each word. “By your mother. Remember?” Dara retorted sharply. “And you defend them! The one responsible for my mother’s death and my father’s disappearance? They gave you eternity!” His voice now raised.
Dara was completely taken off guard by his response. “They gave me pain!” She returned. Kyah seized her nephew by the shoulder, which he aggressively shrugged off. His rage growing. “Pain in exchange for power is an equal price. A power you never deserved.” He berated her with all his being.
“Who needs power in time of peace? Your parents didn’t deserve power either. They were deserters! They fled. You don’t even know them. Your mother’s ability was inflated. Parading like she truly cared. And your father was the weakest of all. I’ve defeated him twice. So, it actually seems it is you who are undeserving.” Dara shouted back.
Jesh’s eyes burned with hatred. The ship began to rock. His power swelling. He stared deep into Dara’s eyes, unable to blink. The twins rushed out the room to gain control of the ship. Green aura encompassed his body.
“You ungrateful peasant. How dare you speak of my family like that. You are all beneath dust. It is an insult to share air with you.” Jesh’s senses were heightened. He could feel 19’s urge to protect her. He quickly met 19’s eyes. “Move and I will remove your heart from your chest.” He growled. 19 remained still.
Jesh returned to his verbal onslaught against Dara. “My only regret is not getting to kill Tumakako myself. So, Go! Run! You don’t belong with us. If you would have it, I can return you to your mothers’ side. You’re clearly the only person from your clan that misses them.” He spouted.
As soon as he finished his words, the back of Kyah’s fist landed on his cheek. Jesh stumbled into the wall. Slightly dazed, his rage only subsided after he realized who had struck him.
The twins managed to level the ship as Jesh’s unleash of power subsided. Jesh looked around the room before settling on the face of Dara. Her eyes filled with tears. He had never been so embarrassed, never had reason to before this moment.
He couldn’t take it all back, he didn’t want to, but the look on Dara’s face hurt him more than keeping his pride. Dara could no longer hold back her tears as she ran out of the room. “Leave us.” Kyah demanded.
The remaining crew exited to leave the two alone. Kyah looked down at her nephew. Jesh refused to make eye contact with her, staring at the floor. He tried not to cry, he much rather her hit him again than hear what she had to say.
“Your allies will never deserve your fury. You would do well to remember that.” Kyah said. Jesh regrettably could not stop one tear from escaping his eye. “She called them weak.” Jesh said. His voice quivering.
“She is right.” Kyah responded, much to the dismay of her nephew. “You don’t know your parents. They failed. Your mother and I failed many times during the war. They both ran from the war after they lost you. You’ve only served the Council as a child. You’ve only survived. You don’t know what it is like to lose your family. The only family you know is me, and I’ve been with you every moment. Everyone is capable of being weak. Even you.” Kyah admonished. Jesh found it difficult to continue to look at his aunt, the disappointment heavy on his chest.
“There is more to you. Allow yourself to become more than what everyone thought you would be. We’ve seen that before in your father. Who will you choose to become?” Kyah asked, leaving her nephew alone to his thoughts. For once, he felt the feeling of loneliness. He imagined existing without Kyah, the twins, Gala or Da-Xia, and even Dara.
Dara gave him a connection he didn’t think existed. He had mistreated her. He wanted to be like his father, the respect he commanded and reverence for his strength and power, even to those who had never laid eyes on him. But now he was slowly beginning to understand.
The means to which his father earned that fearful admiration caused pain for so many others. Even those close to him. Jesh couldn’t accept hurting Kyah, his crew, 19 or anyone who chose to stand by his side. Most of all, he couldn’t hurt Dara ever again.
After taking a moment for himself he rejoined the people and his crew near the center of the traveler. Jesh stood lost in the emotionally depleted crowd of citizens as Kyah stood on a platform for everyone to see. All but the twins in attendance yet he could not spot Dara. “In my life, it would appear I have a lot to learn.” Kyah began. Jesh investigated the crowd, searching for Dara. While each person listened to Kyah’s every word.
“I realize, your past is full of pain, and trauma. I was blind to how you felt, due to my own pain and anger.” Kyah continued. Jesh rowed through the sea of people, but he still could not find her.
“Humanity has made many mistakes. The biggest being, segregating each other, as if we were different. We are not. Our ancestors were barbarians.” She said with a smile. “But I ask you, were we to remain barbarians? Divulging rhetoric that drove us further apart?” Kyah questioned.
“We should be further. Unfortunately, we inverted our journey. None of us deserved to inherit the discourse of our heritage. You did not deserve to be removed. Wiped away from existence, based on the philosophies of those who denied their own insecurities.” Kyah continued.
Jesh walked through the crowd, doing his best not to disrupt his aunt’s speech. But he knew he had to find Dara and apologize. “For the past, great survivors……. I ask for forgiveness. No one will force you to kneel. No one will force you to fight. Your lives are your own.” Kyah said.
Jesh reached the edge of the crowd, making his way to the engine room down the hall. He could feel her power the closer he came to her. Opening the door, he saw Dara sobbing with her head against her knees.
“If you wish to return to Tetcht, we will return back to your planet. We will return after Pratham is reclaimed and aid you in rebuilding the planet we destroyed. We are blood forever.” Kyah offered. “If any of you wish to fight with us. There is no glory among the dead. But the living will always celebrate you.” Kyah said.
Jesh squatted down to meet her. Gently lifting her arms to expose her red face from releasing her emotions. “Come to help me see my mother’s?” She asked through her whimpering. Jesh dropped his head between his shoulders.
“I’m sorry for what I said back there. It was mean and wrong. I should be better at controlling my anger. I felt like you were abandoning us……. you took their side and the truth is we’re all in this together. I see that now.” Jesh paused. “I was wrong. Please forgive me.” He sorrowfully pleaded.
“I’m not abandoning you.” Dara said, wiping her mouth to prevent slobber. “I want to help. But this is not their fight. Let them go home.” Dara implored Jesh. He nodded.
Reaching out for her hand. Dara placed her hand inside his. “What you said was not ok. Say anything like that again to me and I will leave for good.” Dara warned. Jesh nodded again.
Their shadowy crimson energy flickered before igniting between them. Jesh’s shame only slightly outweighed by his excitement. Dara smiled through the tears. “I’m glad you’re staying with us.” Jesh said, gently squeezing her hand. “Me too.” She agreed. Jesh settled down beside her.
A couple tears dripped down Dara’s face. Her temperature increased, alerting Jesh’s to her change of mood. “Did I say something else?” He questioned; afraid he made another mistake. “It’s the Viper. Da-Xia told me he was the one who killed Tuma.” Dara growled through her teeth.
“Yea. He’s quite the opponent. He and his crew are just as effective as us sometimes. We clashed with them once during a mission. I’ll just say, no one walked away without their fair share of injuries.” Jesh recounted. “I’ll make sure he receives more than injuries. Do you know where to find him?” Dara asked.
“I don’t know. And without our ship, we don’t have access to the datafiles. Plus, after our little coupe, I’m sure Magnus removed our access to retrieve mission records or current dossiers.” Jesh said.
He could see that wasn’t the answer she wanted to hear. “I know we have other matters to figure out first, but I promise you, we’ll find him and remove his head. I’ll even let you do the honors.” Jesh finished with a slight nod and smile. Dara tried to remain intense, but his face was so pleasant to her. She couldn’t prevent the smirk from escaping her pursed lips.